Faced with the abundance of styles and functions on offer, buying a new refrigerator can be a challenge.
The humble fridge no longer performs a purely practical function - now there's a host of aesthetic decisions to make all balanced against the usual budget and space constraints.
To help you choose the fridge that's just right for you, we've prepared this handy buying guide.
Your first consideration when buying a new fridge should be capacity. How many people live in your house? And how often do you throw parties or have people round for dinner?
Here is a loose guide to choosing the right fridge size for your household:
|Family size||Combined fridge & freezer size|
|1-2 people||200-380 litres|
|3-4 people||350-530 litres|
|5+ people||440 litres +|
If you're in doubt, the advice we normally offer customers in doubt is to go for the bigger fridge. You can never have too much space for grocery storage.
However, remember that shelving layout is a major space saver. Fridges with adjustable shelves are a plus because they allow you to optimise the storage space. Adjustable shelves are also convenient when hosting a party.
Make sure you thoroughly measure the space you have available prior to your purchase, also making sure you have enough room to properly open the doors.
Top Mount Fridges
A typical top-mount refrigerator measures between 540mm and 800mm in width, 1.3m (1300mm) and 1.8m (1800mm) in height, and 590mm to 750mm in depth. The total volume of top-mount fridges ranges from 200L to 580L.
Types of Refrigerators
Once you've figured out how many litres you need and how much space you've got to work with, you can make a decision about what type of fridge you would prefer.
Other Factors to Consider
With the increasing sophistication of fridge technology, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of functions, accessories and variations on offer.
Here are some details worth considering:
Energy Rating: A fridge uses more energy than just about any other appliance, so investing in a quality model - with high standards of energy efficiency - is recommended.
Check the Energy Rating label on each fridge. The more stars displayed, the more energy efficient the model. Additionally, common sense dictates that the larger the fridge capacity, the more energy it is going to use - which is why it's important to choose the right size fridge to suit your needs.
Generally speaking, top freezer fridges tend to have reasonably good energy efficiency ratings. Another thing to look out for is fridges with an Eco or Holiday mode - which help to conserve energy during periods when the fridge is not being used as often.
Non-synthetic R600a refrigerant: Some fridges use a non-synthetic refrigerant (R600a) which has a significantly lower global warming potential and a shorter life in the atmosphere than the hydrofluorocarbon R134a.
Stainless steel doors: The stainless steel look has become popular in recently years because it is sleek, clean and professional. However one of the drawbacks of stainless steel is it's prone to collecting fingerprints and smudges. Some brands counter this problem with 'fingerprint resistant' stainless steel or brushed stainless steel. Other models come with a special stainless steel cleaning kit to keep your fridge looking shiny and beautiful.
Please note that models with high grade stainless steel finishes are non-magnetic - so you won't be able to stick magnets to the fridge door. Most fridge doors are slightly curved, however some higher end models have perfectly flat fronts to create a designer aesthetic.
However, the stainless steel look isn't to everyone's taste. The classic white look is still the most cost-effective option, and it's easy to keep clean using a damp soapy cloth.
Another option is the retro look, which has become quite popular in recent times. For example, the Smeg FAB fridge range combines bright colours and retro styling (with modern refrigeration technology) to give your kitchen a sense of personality.
Alternatively, black appliances are currently enjoying a comeback. The Electrolux Ebony range is a good example of this trend.
Ventilation: Fridges and freezers produce quite a bit of heat. If you squeeze your fridge into a space that's too small, this heat will have nowhere to go and you will risk overheating the appliance.
The amount of ventilation space required for a fridge or freezer varies depending on the model and the manufacturer, but 2cm either side and 3cm at the top and back is a good rule of thumb.
Temperature/Humidity Controls: Selected models offer electronic temperature controls which offer greater precision than manual dials. It is also useful to look for a fridge which allows you to control the temperature of the fridge and freezer separately.
The more advanced models allow you to set different temperatures within certain areas of the fridge. For example, some fridges offer a 'chill' compartment which is ideal for keeping meat and other perishables fresher for longer. Some fridges also provide a 'drinks chill' option to quickly bring champagne and other drinks down to an ideal serving temperature. Similarly, some freezers provide a 'turbo freeze' option to quickly freeze food that has been recently added to the freezer.
Humidity levels affect the freshness of your fruit and vegetables. Most fridge models supply a crisper bin to prevent your veggies from drying out, but the more advanced fridge models allow you to exactly control the humidity levels to best suit whatever it is you're storing. For example, leafy greens require high humidity levels (otherwise they will wilt), while low humidity levels are better for things like pumpkin, onions and garlic.
Lighting: We all know the frustration of trying to find a missing item inside a poorly lit fridge. Some refrigerators feature interior lighting right down the back panel of the fridge which lights the shelves more effectively than a roof light.
LED lighting is more energy efficient than traditional lighting, and it also emits less heat. This is an advantage because even slight temperature fluctuations can affect the lifespan of your food.
Some models also offer a freezer light, which makes an incredibly convenient addition. No more groping around in the dark for that missing bag of peas!
Adjustable glass shelves: Recommended - they offer flexible storage options and are easy to clean. Glass is sturdier than plastic and it also helps to retain the cold air.
Look out for shelving with spill proofing - some brands can prevent spills of up to 1 litre from dripping to the shelves below.
Door opening direction: When buying a top or bottom mount fridge (or a pigeon pair), make sure you know in advance which way you want the doors open. Some brands provide the option of manually reconfiguring the door to open a different way (using a special kit) however it's easier to simply buy a fridge that suits your requirements from day 1.
Water and ice dispensers: A filtered water and ice dispenser in the front of the fridge door is very convenient, but it can increase the price of the fridge and take up storage space. Please note that these dispensers must be plumbed in by a licensed tradesman.
Another option is to buy a fridge with a twisting ice cube tray that is located above an ice storage box. (Some models even come with a stylish bucket and scoop!) This is a handy addition for anyone who entertains frequently.
Air deodorisers: They keep your fridge smelling fresh by using an active carbon filter to absorb unpleasant odours.
Anti-bacterial agents: Some fridges have anti-bacterial agents built into the fridge to prevent the growth of mould and other harmful bacteria. For example, selected model Samsung fridges feature a Silver Nano Health SystemT coated on the inner walls of the fridge to prevent bacteria and fungi from multiplying. This gives you fresher food and a more hygienic fridge environment.
Our customer service people are hand-picked for their fridge and freezer expertise. If you have any questions feel free to contact us on 1300 000 500.